Cover illustration by David Ho.
We’re thrilled to present The Cretaceous Past, a short novel by award-winner Cixin Liu, appearing for the first time in the US.
Please Note: This novel previously appeared in the UK under the title Of Ants and Dinosaurs.
About the Book:
All the years of human civilization represent an infinitesimal fraction of the time since life first burgeoned on planet Earth. How likely is it, then, in those great depths of time, that humanity alone benefitted from the spark of intelligence which gave rise to culture?
This is the question posed by China’s preeminent science fiction writer for more than twenty years and Hugo-Award-winner for The Three-Body Problem Cixin Liu in his magisterial new short novel, The Cretaceous Past. The answer he offers is unexpected, supposing an unlikely alliance between the largest creatures in the world of the deep past and some of the smallest.
And it all begins with a toothache.
When a Tyrannosaurus rex suffers pain from meat trapped between its enormous teeth, a nearby colony of ants risks entering the great creature’s maw to make their own repast from the remains of the dinosaur’s most recent meal. From this humble beginning, over the course of millennia, a symbiotic civilization achieves amazing advances, reaching dizzying heights in countless endeavors scientific and social, facing dangers and exploiting opportunities at every turn.
In this absorbing tale, Cixin Liu manages to describe the history of successive epochs of a might-have-been world, doing for the past what Olaf Stapledon’s classic Last and First Men did for the future. Here, Liu embarks on a new journey, sure to please the legions of devoted readers of the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy.
The Cretaceous Past offers Liu at his finest, demonstrating flights of imagination and depths of speculation sure to reward new fans and old alike.
From Publishers Weekly:
“Liu (the Three-Body Problem trilogy) delivers a sharp allegory of ant-dinosaur relations in this high concept alternate history… Liu mingles real science with prescientific beliefs and invests his critters with enough anthropomorphic attributes to make them understandable but not so much as to render them humans in costumes, similar to Orwell’s masterful pigs and sheep in Animal Farm. Fans of smart, politically charged sci-fi should check this out.”
From Paul di Filippo, in Locus Online:
“More light-hearted (although still full of Liu’s patented grand-scale disasters), it’s an old-fashioned speculative look back into the deep past, as well as a wry parable about politics, hubris, power, competitiveness, and intolerance… In the end, this novel harks to no other author more than Stanislaw Lem. It’s like one of those lunatic forays into some bizarre yet organically authentic culture as detailed by cyber-savants Trurl and Klapaucius. From an Olympian perspective, jumping in and out of assorted time frames and viewpoint characters, Liu seeks to convey that shared glory and shame that attends to all attempts by any kind of sentience to mold the physical universe nearer to the heart’s desire—even if the hearts in question are as small as mustard seeds or as large as furnaces.”
- David Ho
- Cixin Liu
- 170 pages
- eBook Edition